The results are in. Solar had its strongest year of growth in a record year of growth for all renewable energy sources. Solar accounted for 71 gigawatts (GWs) of the unprecedented 161 GWs of newly installed and operational clean energy added globally during 2016. That’s according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
In IRENA’s latest report, Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017, the organization stated that the amount of renewable energy capacity installed last year increased 8.7 percent over the 152 GWs installed in 2015. It also observed that the amount of global renewable energy installed had reached 2,006 GWs by the end of 2016. IRENA reported Asia was the fastest growing region, accounting for 58 percent of all renewable energy capacity added during 2016.
“We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity,” said IRENA director-general Adnan Amin. “This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment. But accelerating this momentum will require additional investment in order to move decisively towards de-carbonizing the energy sector and meet climate objectives.”
In terms of solar power, China installed almost half of all new solar, adding 34 GWs. The US ranked second, adding 11 GWs, follow by Japan and India, which added 8 GWs and 4 GWs, respectively. This marks the first time since 2013 that solar has outpaced wind, which added 51 GWs to the global energy supply in 2016.
The majority of wind capacity growth took place in four countries. China made the most significant progress in the wind sector, adding a total of 19 GWs of wind. The US added 9 GWs of wind, followed by 5 GWs from Germany and 4GWs from India. The report also noted that Brazil continues to show strong growth in wind, adding 2 GWs of wind turbines last year. Asian bioenergy markets continued to expand with the addition of 5.9 GWs and are quickly approaching European capacity totals.
For the first time, the report also included information about off-grid renewable energy growth for the first time. It estimated that 300 million people around the world get their electricity from off-grid renewables and that off-grid capacity reached 2.8 GWs during 2016. Of that 40 percent was provided by solar, 10 percent from hydropower and most of the rest came from bioenergy sources.Tweet